A man reported missing at the Chippewa Flowage in Sawyer County last Thursday was found dead of an apparent drowning after a two-day search.
The missing man was identified as Gage James Backstrom, 20, of Arlington, Va. He was vacationing in the area.
According to the Sawyer County Sheriff, his office received a 911 call at 12:08 a.m. on July 4, reporting a missing man on the Chippewa Flowage. The caller reported the man was camping on an island located in the eastern part of the Chippewa Flowage.
Sawyer County Deputies responded to the island. After arriving on the island, responding deputies located a boat rented by the missing man on the shore of the island, a campsite with a tent and personal belongings including the missing man’s cell phone.
The missing man was not at the campsite.
Sawyer County Search & Rescue personnel and drones, fire department personnel with an airboat searched the island, other nearby islands and the water in the area. The Sawyer County Dive Team searched the water near the island, assisted by the Wisconsin DNR utilizing underwater equipment. LCO Tribal Game Wardens, Sawyer County Search & Rescue personnel and canines assisted in the search.
The combined search efforts continued until about 5:30 p.m. but the missing man was not located. Search efforts were then suspended.
Search efforts resumed at 9 a.m. on Friday, July 5. Involved were Sheriff's deputies, WI DNR Wardens, LCO Tribal Wardens, St. Louis, Minn., County Sheriff's deputies, Sawyer County Dive
Team and Sawyer County Search & Rescue personnel.
At 10:03 a.m., the missing man was found dead, floating in the water near Big Timber Island. The missing man was not wearing a personal flotation device when he was located.
An autopsy was performed. Results of the autopsy are pending.
The Sawyer County Sheriff's Office reminds everyone to wear a personal flotation device anytime you are boating or participating in other on the water activities.